Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

A Canadian Forces base in Alberta is recruiting a new battalion of lean, mean, eating machines for a mission that will require limited action this summer.

The Department of National Defence has put out a tender for goats and sheep to graze on part of the base at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

“We did this in (CFB) Comox a few years ago and I have a feeling the idea kind of kicked off from that experience,” said Captain Mat Strong, public affairs officer for 1 Canadian Air Division based in Winnipeg.

“The reason we’re using goats is because the areas that need to be trimmed are in precarious locations such … where drainage ditches exist.”

The tender, which has now closed, said the base has areas that are difficult to maintain due to the degree of slope and accessibility.

“To get people in there with trimmers and stuff takes days, because they do it by hand. But you can just dump a bunch of goats in there and they can take care of it in no time,” Strong said.

The contract calls for a herd of 250 animals: 70 per cent goats and 30 per cent sheep.

Strong said it’s not something planned for other bases across the country.

Using goats for weed control isn’t new. It’s been around in Europe for centuries and the critters have been employed in Kamloops, B.C., and Regina to deal with invasive weeds.

The City of Calgary started to use goats to wipe out noxious weeds — most notably the Canada thistle — in a more environmentally friendly way at an urban park in 2016.

“We’ve got three different goat herds operating in the city right now. I would say it has been a success,” said Chris Manderson, who handles urban conservation for Calgary Parks.

Manderson said the newest area to get a goat herd next week is a steep bluff north of the Bow River downtown.

“Goats are a lot better at negotiating that hillside than people would be. A conventional approach would be guys out there with backpack sprayers.”

Strong said removing vegetation is a good way to keep down unwanted wildlife at the base where bears, moose and deer have wandered onto the runway.

The new recruits will only be used as needed, he said.

“It’s kind of like a snow removal or lawn care service you’d have for your house,” Strong said.

“They basically use them for a defined period of time. And if they’re not needed again for a week or two, they go away and then they come back.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Alberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Caitlin Kraft, the sister of Jeffery Kraft, stands third from the left, holding a sign calling for the maximum sentence for Campbell, who is charged with manslaughter. (Photo by Paul Cowley)
UPDATED: Judge again rejects submission of 7-year sentence for slaying of Kraft

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read